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Theater Review: “The Three Musketeers” at Synetic Theater

Dazzling fight choreography makes this Synetic production shine.

Peter Pereyra as Rochefort and Dallas Tolentino as D’Artagnan. Photograph by Johnny Shyrock.

Synetic Theater’s take on
The Three Musketeers has vivid costumes, sexy dance routines and a surprising sense of humor, but it’s
the sword fighting that truly dazzles.

Fueled by the fast-paced, intricate fight choreography from star
Ben Cunis, the production has the same thrilling sense of adventure that pervades Alexandre
Dumas’s classic novel of friendship and intrigue. Musketeers Porthos, Aramis, and
Athos, along with their winning apprentice, D’Artagnan, leap toward, roll over, and
thrust against their opponents, the guards of the evil Cardinal Richelieu, who’s deviously
planning to bring France to war.

All of this action in
Paata Tsikurishvili’s production keeps
The Three Musketeers, longer than most of the company’s movement-centric productions at two and a half
hours, rolling at a satisfying pace. The show has a lot of plot to pack into that
time period, including the evolution of D’Artagnan’s dream of becoming a Musketeer,
the backstories for each of his noble companions, and the resolution of Cardinal Richelieu’s
plotting behind the back of the foppish King Louis XIII (a consistently amusing
Robert Bowen Smith). To keep peace in France, the four swordsmen must recover evidence that could implicate
Queen Anne (Brynn Tucker) in a love affair, and they’re up against several obstacles in the process, including
Milady, an assassin with a mysterious past and a history with Athos.

That history becomes a springboard for several dance and fight scenes between Cunis’s
Athos and
Irina Tsikurishvili’s tragic Milady. Cunis plays Athos as a drunken man coming apart at the seams before
his backstory with Milady is revealed. Their connection is first hinted at during
a stunning dream ballet; the pair’s final duet, however, feels like
The Three Musketeers’ one unnecessary scene.

Cunis and Tsikurishvili make for a striking pair, but the play’s heart belongs to
Dallas Tolentino as the likable and determined D’Artagnan, a brash and open-hearted young man set
on joining the King’s guard even as Richelieu (a marvelously devious
Dan Istrate) works to make them irrelevant. Tolentino has the right boyish charm and determination
for the character, and he still allows the audience to laugh along with his over-the-top
confidence and optimism. Also providing comic relief are
Hector Reynoso, whose Porthos is short on words but full of lust for life, and
Matthew Ward as the womanizing yet pious Aramis, who is always finding himself in one romantic
entanglement or another. The production’s comedic sensibilities are a pleasant surprise,
but it’s the show’s visual impressions, from the Musketeers’ vigorous pantomimed horse-riding
to the looming, blood-red and gold throne of snakes upon which Richeliu perches, that
linger the most.

The Three Musketeers
runs through June 9 at Synetic Theater. Running time is about two and a half hours,
with one intermission. Tickets ($35 to $55) are available via Synetic’s website.